Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Becoming an Expat in Doha? Here are a Few Cultural Tips....

The beautiful Doha Skyline
Qatar is found in the Arabian Gulf boarding Saudi Arabia, Doha is the capital and largest city.

As an expat the risks associated with moving to Qatar are rated as low with crime levels extremely low and mainly non-violent such as petty and opportunistic theft, burglary, robbery, and fraud with terrorism representing a latent risk. Foreign personnel and interests may be targeted by local extremist groups or individuals seeking to launch small-scale, spontaneous or indiscriminate attacks.  Assaults and violent crime against foreigners occur rarely.

General Cultural Tips
Qatar follows the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam and you should dress conservatively by covering arms and legs, this is applicable to both men and women
Handshakes are common upon meeting and leaving, however locals do not shake hands with members of the opposite sex, rather greet with a nod of the head.
A younger person is expected to always hold open a door for someone older, the elderly are highly respected and valued.
The left hand is considered unclean and is not used for eating, greeting or accepting gifts.
Family values and privacy are regarded as important in Qatar.
If you are looking at opening a business as a foreigner, you are not permitted to own property or a business without a Qatari holding at least 51% of the investment.
Alcohol is off limits to all Muslims and can only be consumed by non-Muslim visitors in hotels or private residences, it is illegal to carry a bottle of alcohol in your car to another destination (unless from the depot to your residence) or to bring a bottle into the country  and may encounter difficulty with authorities if this is contravened. Visitors not staying at a hotel will also be required to take membership of the hotel 'club' before being allowed in to drink, if visiting a hotel that you are not staying in .
An alcohol licence is required and has to be approved by your company before you can purchase such, there is only one depot where alcohol and pork (at the moment) are available to foreigners.

Business Cultural Tips
Business conduct is formal, before beginning a meeting, small talk is customary and a personal introduction is helpful with the exchange of business cards.  While business card can be in English, they should have an Arabic translation on the reverse side.
People, in general, are punctual and expect the same in return and appointments must be made and kept.
Tea or coffee is served before meetings begin and it is rude to refuse, remember to hold the cup in the right hand.
It is acceptable for people to receive calls and visits during meetings, and for participants to enter and leave during the discussion.
Men should wear a suit and tie for business meetings, while women should wear a modest cotton or linen dress that covers both arms and legs.
English is the language of business, but knowledge of a few Arabic words is appreciated such as greetings and farewells, thank you and please.
Labour law gives preference to hiring Qataris first, then other Arabs, and finally to other foreigners.
Smoking is acceptable, however wait for others to light up first as smoking is prohibited in some buildings.

Foreign females can travel alone to Qatar and conduct business, however it is advisable not to travel alone or take a taxi on your own.
Although restrictions on dress are less severe than in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, it is advisable to dress modestly.

Women should follow commonsense security precautions such as:
Dress conservatively.
Observe and respect local clothing customs and adhere to conventions for travel in conservative Muslim countries.
Politely refuse invitations that would take you beyond your personal comfort levels.
Your hotel may offer women-only floors; enquire about them upon booking your room.

A service charge of about 10% is usually included in hotel and restaurant bills, in which case additional tipping is not necessary. If a tip is not included, it is customary to pay an additional 10%. Although taxi drivers do not expect a tip, rounding off the amount due will be appreciated.

Working week: Sunday-Thursday
Weekend: Friday and Saturday
Government office hours: 07.00-14.00
Banking hours: 07.30-13.00
Oil companies generally work a half-day on Thursday.
During Ramadan, business hours are reduced and public offices tend to reopen for several hours after iftar (the breaking of the fast).

Qatar is ranked as a some hardship location by Xpatulator.com.

Want to know more about the cost of living in Qatar? Calculate how much you need to earn in Qatar to have the same spending power that you have now. Register, Purchase and Run the Salary Purchasing Calculator (SPPP).

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